There are doubts about Mark Sanchez. Not mine, necessarily, although I do agree with some of the evaluations about the USC quarterback I've been hearing.
Much like Sam Bradford, Sanchez just hasn't played that much college football. Unlike Bradford, Sanchez has been a full-time starting quarterback for only one season. You heard that in Pete Carroll's evaluation of Sanchez' decision during a Thursday press conference.
Plus, there are concerns about Sanchez' toughness and ability to take a hit. One source who has watched USC estimated that Sanchez has been behind center for less than eight "legitimate" sacks. [That is, not flushed out of the pocket or running side-to-side]
USC runs a pro-style offense which should help Sanchez. The team uses only 15 percent of its extensive drop-back passing game in the playbook.
In another sense, It's hard to blame Sanchez given that the Heisman triplets (Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy) are all returning. He has a chanace of being the second quarterback taken after Matt Stafford. However, Sanchez could be leaving a lot of money on the table. He is no slam dunk to go in the top 10. If he returned for his redshirt senior season, Sanchez could improve significantly on his earning power.
"Mark knows he's going against the grain on this decision ...," Carroll said Thursday, "I don't agree with the assessment of the decision ... The NFL has a very clear thought in that they want you to stay in school as long as you can."
Don't be surprised if Sanchez signs with agent David Dunn.
Now, on to USC. It needs a quarterback.
That you know, but this goes much deeper. USC needs a quarterback, a couple of new coordinators, oh, and a new defense.
Welcome to Carroll's first rebuilding job since he arrived in Troy in 2001. It's not just Sanchez leaving a year early for the NFL. It's essentially the entire defense leaving, one of the best -- statistically -- of modern times. Both coordinators have left too -- DC Nick Holt followed Steve Sarkisian to Washington.
The spring battle at quarterback will be the most significant at USC since 2003 when Matt Leinart came out of nowhere. It seems like the same thing will happen again with Aaron Corp, Mitch Mustain and Garrett Green competing with freshman Matt Barkley, who is already enrolled.
Mustain, an Arkansas transfer, had trouble picking up the offense in 2008. That was clear when he dropped to third on the depth chart for a time behind Corp.